Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hurricane Rita

Well, I live about an hour and maybe 15 minutes north of Galveston....work has been shut down today & tomorrow, maybe even Monday if DT is still flooded (Houston has terrible water drainage, it's all concrete)....I don't get paid for it, I left my job Tuesday. I feel screwed money-wise. Anyway, Since yesterday afternoon, the air has been very still, it's sort of eerie. I managed to get plenty of food & supplies in the late morning, before everybody else left at lunch & freaked out running to stores. Traffic usually sucks anyway but now it's even worse, which is hard to imagine. People don't care driving, cut everybody off, just cut right in. You have to drive very aggressively to manage or you won't get anywhere.

For us, I figure the worst that will happen is power loss. There's a lot of trees that the wind has to go thru to get to us. We won't starve, we'll be fine, I made sure of that. We have gassed up to so our vehicles are taken care of. We have a friend who lives in Houston proper who is staying with us through this. It makes things more tolerable, more fun, we can all suffer through together! Oh yeah, we have the most important thing too to help us through this....lots of alcohol!!! But it is a little unsettling how still the air is.

Something big is coming at us, I can tell because yesterday afternoon, my wrists, fingers and knees swelled up really badly. A reaction to air pressure changes, I suppose. And it's so damn hot! It's over 100 degrees, I can't wait for things to cool down.

People wonder, I guess, if animals actually sense disasters before they happen.....i've been watching my dog & cat. The dog isn't any different so far, he doesn't care. He's just happy as always. The cat has been acting a bit agitated, he's more vocal than usual, but he's a little neurotic so i don't know how good of a gauge that is. He may just be reacting to me being home when I'm usually not. I feel a bit restless, like I need to do SOMETHING, not just sit around. I don't know if that's air pressure, you know, like when they say kids get to acting up right before a storm, etc. That might also be simply a reaction to being at home when I'm usually working.

2:00 pm central. Just went out & got the mail, noticed in our immediate neighborhood that only one house has boarded up their big picture window, one other house taped up theirs. I saw a couple of neighbors with their belongings packed on the top of their vehicles leave. Maybe we'll tape up our windows, I'm not sure. We talked about it a little but our window doesn't face directly into the direction the wind will be coming, we have no windows in that direction. There's a little breeze now, which makes the heat more tolerable. I guess this is the very beginning of the storm, I should take a cue from the other neighbors and bring my plants in now.

I can't say that I'm scared, I've lived through ice storms, blizzards, tornadoes, floods, even earthquakes. I've flown through a hurricane in an airplane, even flown through a bad electrical storm in a plane. That was probably the worst, lightning going on all around the plane, but I still managed to take a nap. I suppose the best word would be "apprehensive" since i've never been through a Cat 5 storm before. Yeah, in case you havn't heard, Rita is a Category 5 storm now. Well, this will be one more interesting story I'll have to tell. But I am confident that overall things will be okay.

3:00 pm central. Got the plants moved to the garage. Left a couple on the front entry, they should be protected by the wall since it is a west-facing entryway & hopefully out of any strong winds. The lizard that took up residence in one of the bromeliads seemed to object to his home being moved so I left it.

It is brutally hot! You can see the beginnings of large storm clouds coming in, absolutly huge, slow-moving clouds. The wind has picked up a little which is still the only thing making the heat bearable. I'm glad for air-conditioning.

The other people in the house have opted for a nap, which is probably smarter than me. I just can't bring myself to lie down for a while, just too wired. I see that NOAA has downgraded Rita to a Cat 4 now....so it's weakened a little.

Everything that can be done for preparations has been done, the Houston mayor has done an outstanding job of telling people to evacuate & working with the Galveston mayor and the state governor. I think it was very good timing & advice to tell businesses to let people go home yesterday in order to prepare. Human cost should be minimal from this. Regardless of federal involvement, Texas will take care of itself and so will its residents. Everything will be alright in the end.

Took a picture of the very beginnings of this about a half hour ago, you can see what it looks like from my house on the right of this page.

4:30 pm central. Took another shot, it's gotten a little dark all of a sudden! The main highways in Houston (I-45 and I think 59) have been converted to only out-bound and some of the exit ramps have been cut off because the local stores have run out of gas & food. I saw on the weather channel in one spot where the next exit wasn't for 90 miles. Glad I'm at home!



Wow, I'm morbid. It's almost disappointing that Rita was downgraded. When it was a Cat 5, it was the third most powerful storm! It was the big rival to Katrina, even more powerful because the millibars were lower, making it an even more powerful super-storm! Now it's a lowly Cat 4 storm.

5:30 pm central. Ah, the sleeping beauties have awakened! I saw that Rita was picking up power again, the hurricane eye winked. Also saw the traffic on 45 on the weather channel. That's gridlock for you! Why isn't the traffic moving? Good question, but you have to wonder where the head of that line is. Basically, you have A LOT of people here who simply don't know how to drive, who completely lack driving skills. Find out where the head of the line is and you might have the answer!

Even after we lose power & I won't be able to post for a while, I'll still do my best to get shots to post later.

I think it's time to start the party, it finally cooled to the mid-90's!

8:30 pm central. The guys went out to get cigarettes but found the gas stations all closed. They came back to use my car, it's fully fueled. I hope they don't end up too far. People are still stuck on the highway, running out of gas. I guess that fuel trucks are going up to help out, that will be quite a feat. I can see already that the handling of disaster traffic will be highly criticized. I sincerely hope some good will come out of it, some kind of constructive road planning.

Cool! The guys are coming back, mission successful! Cigarettes bought! Gas stations are open with everything but gas.


See you after the storm!

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